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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Bethesda Softworks

 

Developer

Bethesda Softworks

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

November 2003

 

 

- Makes a long game even longer!
- Probably the most engrossing and involving videogame you’ve
ever played
- Excellent interweaving stories
- Near endless play
- Great presentation
- Huge world to explore
- Hones the RPG conventions
- Extraordinary music

 

 

- Takes a while to pull you in
- No way to tell how damaged an enemy is

 

 

Review: Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (XB)

Review: Star Wars - Knights of the Old Republic (XB)

Review: Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC)

Review: Elder Scrolls III: Tribunal (PC)

Review: Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon (PC)

 

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The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Game of the Year Edition

Score: 10 / 10

 

morrowind game of the year xbox review          morrowind game of the year xbox review

 

In July 2002 I started my review of Morrowind with:
 

After “finishing” Morrowind, I’m left wordless to describe the experience. I could use words like “good”, “great” or “fantastic.” Even “superb”, but they all fall short somehow. So with that in mind, bear with me.
 

My assessment glowed with praise. I'm singing a different tune this year.

Bethesda, are you listening? Damn you all to dark corners of Satan's footlocker! What's the idea releasing The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Game of the Year Edition

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in the game-laden 4th Quarter? You could have released it any time. How about February 2004 when I might have time to truly appreciate what you've crafted?

Time is at a premium for game reviewers this time of year so the fact I spent 40+ hours with all the new goodies that are included with the GOTYE (Game of the Year Edition) completely set my review schedule off-kilter and spiralling into

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the ground. Both Tribunal and Bloodmoon expansions arrived to the PC earlier this year and they now land like a couple of three-ton bricks on the Xbox. No single game should be this deep or engrossing!

I can sum up this review easily: If you liked or loved Morrowind, the GOTYE should be on your "To Buy" list of games. It's chock-full of new material (like the ability to be a werewolf) and quests (many, many quests), making Morrowind a game you could truly be busy with for upwards of a year.

There have been some subtle changes to the overall package, but most of what I said back in July 2002 still applies:
 

Morrowind is probably the most intricate videogame world ever created. Underline the word “world.” Morrowind is a huge place with plenty of nooks, crannies, and caves to explore. Take for example, the books of varying length to seek out and discover that flesh out Morrowind’s history and tell you about items that can be found in Morrowind. And you’ll never play the same way twice. Besides choosing Race, character class, and sex, you can also join a Faction. All these attributes, plus a few I haven’t mentioned, affect your interactions with others and what quests can be completed. There is a specific main quest that completes your prophesized place in Morrowind history (and is very entertaining and full of surprises), but there are many ways to complete it. (And when you’re finished that you can continue on, visiting places you may have overlooked on your way to the top.)

If you love linear gameplay, stay away from Morrowind. This game is about as linear as a bowl of spaghetti. Rarely does point A lead you to point B. You may eventually reach B, but not before crossing M, G, and C. Which is not to say you can’t progress linearly, it’s just easy to get distracted by the side quests – and that’s part of the joy. I like games that don’t funnel me in a straight line. One of Morrowind’s biggest strengths is its open-endedness. Just steal the book and make a break for it? Or kill the guards and walk away with the book (and risk jail time)? Or forget about getting the book altogether and do something else?

The depth of Morrowind’s gameplay and overall design is matched by the audio-visual presentation. Hands down, Morrowind’s soundtrack should be released on CD – once you’ve heard the opening chords you’ll be humming it for hours after first booting it up. And it’s not just the music – all the environmental effects have been nailed. (The whale song of the stilt striders is haunting!) Speech is sparse but with 2,000 NPCs [even more with the GOYTE] I can’t fault Bethesda for the text presentation of the interactions. (Seemingly everyone has something to say or a possible quest to complete.) The action on-screen moves fluidly and the landscapes and landmarks are gorgeous. So much so, I always expected to find a tour guide hawking a Morrowind Tourist Guide. (“See Vvardenfall by Stilt Strider!”)

 

morrowind game of the year xbox review         morrowind game of the year xbox review


Not only is Morrowind a serious RPG with countless small details, there is also a fair amount of humor throughout. Witness the failed Icarus Spell. Some of the books you find along the way are a very funny, too.

If I were to find fault with Morrowind it would be with the length of time it takes to really be immersed in the experience. [This isn't so much of a problem with the GOTYE if you've played the "basic" Morrowind.] Most games do their utmost to pull you in with the first 30 minutes of action. With Morrowind you might still be tinkering with your stats. If you’re looking for Halo-type action, you won’t find it here (although toward the “end” things get pretty hairy). I highly recommend Morrowind but I’d also recommend you schedule a 3 to 4 hour block of time for your first outing. Getting a handle on the controls and the basic mechanics of equipping spells and equipment is no problem. The manual is exhaustive so you should never be at a loss of how to interact with things around you. It’s getting into and understanding the situation that takes a while. You start with zero knowledge (much like your digital avatar fresh off a prisoner ship) and have to bring yourself up to speed. It’s like being dropped in a strange city, knowing no one, owning nothing, and not quite understanding the language – some of the names are difficult to remember. Just think of Morrowind as a big swimming pool (or huge bowl of spaghetti) that you have to ease into – but once you’re in, the water (or sauce) sure is fine!

 

So I’m not exactly wordless on my opinion of Morrowind, but the above still feels inadequate. Morrowind takes gaming to new levels – not only is it a great game, it borders on a work of art. You have to play it.

And I don't really harbor any resentment toward Bethesda. It's just a shame that Morrowind might be overlooked in the mad rush of the 4th Quarter. This is definitely one title that will be in constant rotation on my play list once 2004 rolls around. Should people that already own Morrowind grab a copy? Oh yeah. There's more than enough new material to warrant a purchase.

- Omni
(December 21, 2003)

 

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